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Family of Utrecht tram shooting suspect rules out terror-related motive

Police released picture of 37-year-old Gökman Tanis in connection with the Utrecht shooting. (Image Courtesy: Utrecht Police official Twitter handle)  Photograph:( Twitter )

Agencia EFE Istanbul, Turkey Mar 19, 2019, 05.01 PM (IST)

Relatives of a man suspected of carrying out a shooting on a tram in the Dutch city of Utrecht, which killed three people, have said they do not believe his motive was terror-related, Turkish state-run news agency Anadolu reported Tuesday.

The alleged shooter, identified as 37-year-old Turkish national Gökmen Tanis, wounded five others inside the tram on Monday before he was caught by the police and taken into custody along with other two people.

"A terrorist attack is unlikely," the suspect's uncle was quoted by Anadolu as saying.

According to witnesses, Tanis was riding on a tram in the Kanaleneiland district, in western Utrecht, when he took a pistol out and started shooting continually and at random before fleeing the scene.

The suspected shooter's father, who lives in the Turkish city of Kayseri, said that he had not heard from his son for years. 

"I do not know who my son has been seeing for the past 10 years… As far as I know he is not someone who would carry out such an attack," his father said.

The Turkish government condemned the crime and expressed solidarity with the Netherlands.

"We strongly condemn the attack that took place today (Mar. 18, 2019) in the city of Utrecht, in the Netherlands regardless of the identity of the perpetrator and the motivation behind it," the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

"We extend our condolences and wish fortitude to the families of those who lost their lives, and speedy recovery to those wounded," the ministry added.

Utrecht's mayor Jan van Zanen called it a "black day for our city."

"An act of terror is an attack on our open and tolerant society. If this is a terror attack, then there is only one answer: our rule and democracy are stronger than fanaticism and violence. We will not accept intolerance," Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte told a press conference.

Tanis was "detained during a raid on the Old Town In Utrecht" police said on Twitter Monday, adding: "Earlier the police published information and a photo of this same person."

The photo was captured by the security camera aboard the tram.

Utrecht, the fourth-largest city in the Netherlands, is located just 40 kilometers (24 miles) southeast of Amsterdam.

Story highlights

The alleged shooter, identified as 37-year-old Turkish national Gökmen Tanis, wounded five others inside the tram on Monday before he was caught by the police and taken into custody along with other two people.